Poet Bryonie Wise – Stories My Mama Told Me After She Was Gone. By Hallie Switzer
In 2015 I picked up a book of poetry, I liked the title and the rainbow lettering: HEART ROAR: A Book of Tiny Prayers by Bryonie Wise. After flipping though a couple pages I was at the cash buying it. The book contained poems touching on essential truths of being alive, in all its messy, wonderful, painful glory. Bryonie has recently released her next book of poems; STORIES MY MAMA TOLD ME AFTER SHE WAS GONE. It is as beautiful, and true as her first book, yet moves to new territory, unafraid of the reality of grief and where to go from there and the beauty in darkness, never without the presence of love. As the title states, the poems explore the lines of love between a mother and daughter, un-severed by what death takes away.
Every new line you read contain messages so deep and so essential you want them tattooed on your body, not only so that you never forget, but so that they can become a permanent part of you.
On the first pages, before the book has even begun, before the dedication, the book sets an intention. The message begins: "May the stories sewn into the following pages hold you wherever you are in your life”…. Inviting the reader to share in the feelings within the following pages. For a reader, experiencing art that doesn't convolute or distract but reveals the deepest and darkest parts that are also the most human, the most relatable, is deeply freeing. For some reason we consistently doubt that anyone else feels the things we feel, in the way we do. But Bryonie's poems tell the reader, as summed up in the 15th poem:
"You are not alone and
of you is always
Welcome to read, to re-read and reflect and to relate.
I had the chance to ask Bryonie a few questions:
1) What is your process for writing like? How do your poems take shape?
This is one of those questions that has more than one answer to it—all together, the parts create the whole. The first part is a commitment to writing daily—call it it morning pages, journaling, or writing ritual—I show up to the page as often as I can. Every day is my goal and with time, age and practice, I'm kinder to myself if I miss a day or several.
The point is to keep the channels open—to continue the cultivation of this art form, and to give myself a safe space to really allow anything that is alive for me in the moment, in it's raw, untamed form to spill out and into the open. Not everything we write is to be shared, and I think we benefit from building this form of trust with ourselves.A daily writing practice where I essentially give myself permission toempty my heart with no strings attached (I don't even read the daily pages until I fill the notebook) creates space for poems to form—for words that may (or may not) be of value to myself and maybe even the world. Sometimes, I spend days and days with a kind of holographic constellation of words floating around me, just out of reach—my imagination plays with formation and intention and when it clicks, the delivery onto the page is smooth and I don't question it. Other times, the search for the words is frustrating—when I try too hard to make a piece of writing before both the words and I are ready, I know it's not coming from a grounded place, and so I'll step back and invite breath in.
The practice of writing and courting my creative muse has taught me a lot about patience—because my words are so personal, because often they are medicine to support forever healing, I know now that there are times when I must hold them close to my chest before I let them go.
2) Poetry is such an intimate medium – what was it like to first express vulnerable parts of yourself on paper?
Oh—the first times are not to be believed because I hadn't yet built trust with my creative expression. I still experience nausea, followed by panic, leaning into the desire to remove the words from where the lay sprawled out, so raw and alone. It takes everything to stay present and allow them to be—to be with those bits and pieces of myself as they are seen and witnessed. First, there is the urge to hide away but then—but then, there is a great sense of liberation and sovereignty that are not worth trading for anything. I would prefer to continue to unravel and reveal and be who I am in the world, which includes how I carry my own heart from the inside out.
3) Where/when do you feel most inspired?
Open windows. Radio blasting. Dog, smiling in the backseat. Nowhere to go and everywhere to be. Unplugged. Long walk in deep woods. Soaking in bird song. Run-walking the line along the lake. Bouquets of flowers and natural light. Bare feet everywhere they can be. Hot baths, Turkish coffee, a new Moleskin. Immersed in the heart of creation. When the words come together, just so. The place where an emotion, memory or feeling transforms and transmutes into a new form. Reading books. Looking at art.Making self portraits. Being alone with my thoughts. In the company of loved ones.
Even when I'm stuck or stagnant, or lost in the void, I know to trust these periods of darkness as necessary to my creative evolution.
4) what were the first words you had tattooed on your body?
Thank you so much Bryonie!
And be sure to check out her Human Is What We Are course – starting March 2018.